Accelerated training for the Biopharmaceutical Industry

This unique professional training programme has been designed and developed in collaboration with the multinational Contract Research Organisation, Covance.

  • Designed to fast track people into the biopharmaceutical industry
  • Biopharmaceuticals are an emerging class of medicine thus creating demand for well-trained scientists
  • 20 months long course, covering campus-based taught modules in the first six months, followed by a 12-month guaranteed paid placement in industry where you can expect to earn around £20,000.
  • You’ll gain an integrated understanding of the full biological drug development pathway and the regulatory framework. The focus will be on large molecule drugs: monoclonal antibodies like Herceptin, bio-similars and antibody-drug conjugates; gene therapies and the technologies that underpin the discovery and development pathway.
  • A large amount of your teaching will be delivered by qualified industry professionals who are working at the forefront of their fields in the areas of science that support drug development.
  • The curriculum is delivered primarily via project work in teams, and is assessed with outputs that are commonplace in industry, including presentations and reports to clients, regulators, investors/sponsors etc.
  • You’ll have access to cutting-edge practical technologies and gain hands-on practical training in protein purification, characterisation, formulation and assessment of binding function. In addition, you’ll use cell-based assays to look at drug potency, all performed in a strict regulated environment.

What our students say

‘This course seemed too good to be true when I first started looking for a Masters degree, however now I am on the course I am really happy that everything is as I hoped it would be.’

‘I didn’t know what I wanted to do as a Masters, I knew I was interested in the pharmaceutical industry but wasn’t aware of a Masters programme that existed to give me the overall knowledge of the drug development process, this is a truly unique course.’

‘The industry teaching is excellent, I can’t believe how much time we get with industry experts, they are really helpful and happy to answer any questions, it gives us a different perspective on the biopharmaceutical industry and the various elements of the development pathway which is really important.’

‘We primarily do project work and deliver presentations which is more commonplace within the industry is a huge plus for me.'

The Biopharmaceutical Industry

A biopharmaceutical is a biological drug/medicine produced within living systems such as bacteria cells, yeast cells or plant or animal cells.

Biopharmaceutical drugs are an emerging class of medicine in the pharmaceutical industry that have grown in popularity owing to their clinical effectiveness, low level of side effects and economic performance. Biologics now account for over a third of all new drugs in clinical trials or awaiting FDA approval.

In 2016, biopharmaceutical drugs generated sales of $196bn with above average growth of +7.6%. These drugs now represent 24% of the global drug market.

For more information about the current skills gap within the industry which this course has been created to address, please read the Association of the British Biopharmaceutical Industry (ABPI) report: Bridging the skills gap in the biopharmaceutical industry.

Related courses

Bioscience MSc
Infection, Immunity and Human Disease MSc
Plant Science and Biotechnology MSc

Course content

The total duration of this course is 20 months long, covering the campus-based taught elements in six to seven months, followed by a 12-month guaranteed paid work placement involving a research project where you’ll experience at first hand the working environment of this industry.

This taught modules on this course will provide you with an understanding of the full biological drug development focusing on each of the major steps of the process (as demonstrated in the Biopharmaceutical Pathway image):
  • discovery
  • manufacturing
  • pre-clinical testing
  • clinical trials
  • market access and
  • the regulatory and legal aspects framework that ensure safe practice and the development of safe and effective medicines.

Biopharmaceutical Modules and Placement Opportunity

Course structure

Work placement: an integral part of your training

An integral part of this course is your first paid job in industry. This is a 12-month guaranteed work and research experience in industry or placement hosted within the university research laboratories developed and co-supervised with industry. Students can expect to earn up to £20,000 over the duration of their placement.

The placements will all include a practical research project where you will gain in-depth practical experience of at least one technical function of the drug development process (discovery, manufacturing, pre-clinical testing, clinical safety and efficacy).

The map displays some of the placement opportunities that have previously been available for students on this course.

You will commence your project in May, six-months after the start of the programme and will be completed by the following April. Graduation is scheduled immediately thereafter, making you available for employment immediately after your placement.

Find out more about the modules you will study.

These are typical modules/components studied and may change from time to time. Read more in our Terms and conditions.

Over the first six to seven months starting in September you will study 100 credits worth of taught modules.

Biopharmaceutical Development Pathway 5 credits

Setting the scene for the full course, this module provides an overview of the drug development pathway, from research and development to marketed product, focusing on biologics (antibodies, vaccines, gene therapy, ADCs).

You will be introduced to the medical, scientific and economic drivers – costs, number of leads, attrition rate – associated with drug development. The module outlines the regulatory framework for biologic drug development, including GLP, GCP and GMP, and provides a context for these through reference to landmark cases.

Biopharmaceutical Drug Discovery and Pre-clinical Testing 20 credits

This module provides an outline of the principles of drug discovery of biological molecules (as distinct from small chemical molecules) with teaching and advice from scientists working in the biopharmaceutical industry.

It considers the drug development pipeline at the preclinical stage:

  • Druggable target identification
  • Target validation
  • Biologic drug formats
  • Biological libraries and screening for target hits
  • Assay development
  • Lead identification
  • Hit-to-lead optimisation
  • Preclinical disease modelling

The module will introduce you to the team-based analytical process used by industry before commencing a drug development project. This includes target identification and justification, a basic understanding of the path forward and the best mode of action (e.g. format of the biologic, naked antibody, immunoconjugate, peptide, ADC, etc).

The different testing requirements for different biological products (e.g. monoclonal antibodies, recombinant proteins, gene therapy products and vaccines) are discussed and you will gain an understanding of the analytical techniques used to examine pharmacokinetics, toxicokinetics and anti-product antibodies.

You will have the opportunity to critically appraise the preclinical development strategies for a range of candidate molecules and identify go/no-point to develop an understanding of the decision-making process on whether to continue or stop a project.

Manufacturing Biopharmaceuticals 15 credits

This module provides an in-depth introduction to biologics manufacturing.

It addresses issues related to upstream processing (cell lines and culture systems), downstream processes (product purification), analytics (chemical analysis of products), formulation, quality assurance and safety compliance.

Biopharmaceutical Development: Clinical 10 credits

This module provides an outline to the principles of clinical trial design and conduct in the biologics development setting.

The emphasis is on understanding the practical issues that arise through real-life examples, backed up with the relevant theory. It expands on the introduction provided in the Biopharmaceutical Development Pathway module, and link the Preclinical Biopharmaceutical Development and Commercialisation of Biopharmaceuticals modules, providing grounding in the basic specialist knowledge and skills required by the biopharmaceutical industry.

Integrated Drug Development Plan 20 credits

An integrated drug development plan is submitted to the regulator (e.g. FDA) to gain permission to progress a drug to human clinical trial.

This module is project based, with students working in teams to produce a drug development plan. This plan integrates all the preclinical aspects of a particular biopharmaceutical product, establishing the evidence base supporting its safety and efficacy and the appropriateness of planned clinical trials.

Teams will develop a target product profile for a drug, construct an integrated development plan (manufacturing, non-clinical and clinical), take feedback from a regulatory authority and submit an investigational new drug (IND) proposal to the regulator.

Commercialising Biopharmaceutical Products 10 credits

This module explores how economic value is captured in the biopharmaceutical industry.

It focuses on salient intellectual property rights (IPR) and the external drivers that influence business decisions (economic, societal, technological and legal). Working in teams, students will take part in projects that evaluate an opportunity from the IPR perspective (freedom to operate, creative solutions), and create an opportunity business model (OBM) to exploit a particular biotechnological breakthrough. In addition, students will formally evaluate the teamwork and leadership performance of themselves and their team whilst delivering these projects.

Practical Skills for a Regulatory Environment 20 credits

Students follow a programme of experiments and analyses applying techniques used to characterise biopharmaceuticals modelled on quality guidelines such as ICH Q6B.

The module covers chromatography for protein purification, analyses of aggregation and protein stability to in vitro interaction analysis and cell-based activity assays. You will learn about the importance of working to instruction and record-keeping for a regulatory environment.

Seven months after the start of the course (April/May), you will start a 12-month industrial placement where you will undertake a research project worth 80 credits.

Industrial Placement & Research Project 80 credits

An integral part of this course is your first paid job in industry. This course incorporates a 12-month guaranteed paid work placement in industry. You can expect to expect to earn approximately £20,000 over the duration of their placement.

The placement will include a practical research project where you will gain in-depth practical experience of at least one technical function of the drug development process (discovery, manufacturing, pre-clinical testing, clinical safety and efficacy).

You will commence your project in April, six-months after the start of the programme and will be completed by the following April. Graduation is scheduled immediately thereafter, making you available for employment immediately after your placement.

Learning and teaching

The learning and teaching on the course has been constructed to align with activities performed in industry, preparing you to be work-ready immediately after you finish.

You’ll have access to the very best learning resources and academic support during your studies. We’ve been awarded a Gold rating in the Teaching Excellence Framework (TEF, 2017), demonstrating our commitment to delivering consistently outstanding teaching, learning and outcomes for our students.

This course will challenge you to think creatively, solve problems and develop strong communication and teamwork skills. You’ll experience a wide range of teaching methods, including formal lectures, interactive workshops, practical classes and industry site visits.

You’ll extensively use of real-life, industry specific case studies to illustrate theoretical and practical concepts and multiple opportunities to work in teams, including the opportunity to lead a team. A wide range of ‘authentic’ assessments will be used that students will experience in the workplace including submissions to regulatory authorities, client reports and presentations to industry panel members.

Entry requirements

Normally a 2:1 honours degree or equivalent in a Biological Sciences subject, Bioprocessing or Biochemical Engineering, but relevant experience may be taken into account. In addition, applicants will need to demonstrate leadership potential, which might be evidenced from academic, sporting, volunteering or other professional experience.

How to apply

Documents and information you’ll need:

  • completed online application form (for Taught Postgraduate Study)
  • completed supporting statement outlining your career intentions and state how your achievements / experiences set you up to excel on this course. Plus describe your leadership style and experiences and how you can become a future leader in biopharmaceutical development.
  • full CV
  • transcript of degree examination marks achieved to date
  • copy of final degree certificate (if completed)
  • evidence of English language qualification (non-native English speakers only)
  • copy of passport (if you’re an overseas student).

Frequently asked questions about the course.

Application deadline: 17th June 2018.

Find out more about how to apply

  Apply   >  

This link takes you to information on applying for taught programmes and to the University's online application system.
If you're unsure about the application process, contact the admissions team for help.

Applicants who require a Tier 4 (general) student visa are not permitted to study our MSc in Biopharmaceutical Development. This programme includes a mandatory work placement that consists of more than 50% of the total length of the course. The UKVI Home Office will not issue a visa if the duration exceeds 50%. Further information can be found here.

We will consider any international applicants that do not require a Tier 4 visa. Please contact our taught postgraduate admissions team directly

Admissions policy

Biopharmaceutical Development Taught Postgraduate School Policy 2019

Link to admissions policy document


UK/EU: £20,000 (total)

International: £30,000 (total)

For fees information for international taught postgraduate students, read Masters fees.

Fees explained

Students who are self-funding will pay the tuition fee in 4 instalments across the duration of the course (September and February). If you are receiving a postgraduate student loan (up to £10,280) from Student Finance England you can set up an alternative instalment plan in line with your loan payments. In this case you will pay the tuition fee in 6 instalments across the duration of the course (November, February and May).

Standard Fee structure
Year 1 Placement
Oct Nov Jan Feb Apr May
Tuition Fee Payment £4,444.33 £4,444.33 £4,444.34
Student Loan Instalment £1,713.00 £1,713.00 £1,713.00
Year 2
Oct Nov Jan Feb Apr May
Tuition Fee Payment £2,222.33 £2,222.33 £2,222.33
Student Loan Instalment £1,713.00 £1,713.00 £1,713.00

A alternative payment option is also possible which will allow you to defer part of your fees until you start your paid placement. Please contact our admissions team to discuss these;

Deferred Fee structure
Year 1 Placement
Oct Nov Jan Feb Apr May
Tuition Fee Payment £2,222.33 £2,222.33 £2,222.33
Student Loan Instalment £1,713.00 £1,713.00 £1,713.00
Year 2
Oct Nov Jan Feb Apr May
Tuition Fee Payment £4,444.33 £4,444.33 £4,444.34
Student Loan Instalment £1,713.00 £1,713.00 £1,713.00

Tuition fee = £20,000.

Placement salary = £20,000 (approx.) You will start receiving a placement salary of £1,333.00* per month after tax. * Please note National Insurance will also be deducted

There are other general living costs which you will need to budget for. Read more about paying fees and charges.

Additional cost information

There may be additional costs related to your course or programme of study, or related to being a student at the University of Leeds. Read more about additional costs

Scholarships and financial support

If you have the talent and drive, we want you to be able to study with us, whatever your financial circumstances. There may be help for students in the form of loans and non-repayable grants from the University and from the government.  Find out more at Masters funding overview.

We award a generous range of scholarships and consider all eligible applicants who demonstrate outstanding academic achievement and excellent personal and professional skills.

Visit our FBS fees and scholarships page to find out more about the range of scholarships we have to offer.

Your first steps into an industrial career

This course will help give you the experience and skills to become highly employable. Many pharmaceutical companies are expanding their biopharmaceutical capability, which is creating demand and opportunities for talented, well-trained people. At the same time, these companies report difficulties in recruiting employees with relevant skill sets and those with broad industrial experience are greatly sought after.

This course will give you a high amount of exposure to senior industrialists working as tutors throughout the course and can take this opportunity to obtain career advice. You’ll also work in industry full time for 12 months, which is an outstanding opportunity for you to develop a competitive career plan.

With this degree, you’ll have the relevant knowledge and experience to fast-track your career as, for example, an analytical scientist, project manager, or coordinator, in areas such as research, quality control, manufacturing, project management, non-clinical, clinical, and market access.

As a student on this course you’ll have unique access to an industry-mentor and a personal tutor (academic member of staff) for the duration of your studies. You’ll also get support in planning your career through sessions that develop your CVs and applications.

Some possible careers within the biopharmaceutical industry include;

  • Bioanalytical Scientist
  • Bioinformatician
  • Business Developer
  • Cell Culture Technician
  • Clinical Research Associate
  • Clinical Research Co-ordination
  • Downstream Processing Technician
  • Medical Science Liaison
  • Medical Writer
  • Patent Attorney
  • Regulatory Affairs Officer
  • Research Scientist
  • Translational Scientist

For more information about the career opportunities that are available within the biopharmaceutical sector, please visit the Association of the British Pharmaceutical Industry careers website.

Careers support

We encourage you to prepare for your career from day one. That’s one of the reasons Leeds graduates are so sought after by employers.

The Careers Centre and staff in your faculty provide a range of help and advice to help you plan your career and make well-informed decisions along the way, even after you graduate. Find out more at the Careers website.

Request course brochure



Key Facts

Start date:
September 2018

20 months full time

Entry requirements:
A bachelor degree with a 2:1 (hons)
Full entry requirements

UK/EU Fees:
£20,000 (total)

International Fees:
£30,000 (total)

Fees explained

This course has a mandatory paid work placement.

Course terms & conditions

Student Profile

"Learning about the drug development process has opened my eyes to the different fields that are involved in developing a drug and I now have an interest in preclinical analysis for drug discovery."
Read more

Beth Peacock , MSc Biopharmaceutical Development